SPECIAL REPORT / MAINTENANCE, REPAIR & OVERHAUL
Adm. John M. Richardson painted for the Senate Armed Services Committee a stark picture of the impact draconian budget constraints and 15 years of war have had on the Navy.
“The effects of this high-operational tempo manifest
themselves through increased wear and tear on ships,
aircraft and people,” the chief of naval operations told
the panel during a Sept. 15 hearing. “As we conduct
much-needed repairs, the average amount of work
needed for the 34 ships currently in private shipyards
is exceeding our projections by 35 percent.”
While Richardson’s overall observations were reflec-
tive of the entire Navy community, he made it a point
to specify that keeping ships ready to deploy for seven
months is taking its toll.
“Longer maintenance cycles have operational implications, and often have a cascading effect,” he said.
How Capitol Hill ultimately reacts to Richardson’s
words of caution remains to be seen, in an era when continuing resolutions rather than real budgets pay the bills.
At the deck-plate level and in the schoolhouses, how-
ever, Sailors in ship-maintenance ratings are making do
with what they have — often with
outstanding results. While doing
more with less is a cliché to some,
it is the norm for them.
“Now more than ever, we must
train our Sailors to know their
equipment, to know what ‘good’
looks like, to know what it takes to
keep it there, [and] avoid running
equipment into failure,” Stephanie
Douglas, executive director of
the Norfolk Naval Station, Va.-
based Commander, Navy Regional
Maintenance Center (CNRMC),
said in a statement to Seapower.
The work is taking place ashore
in intermediate-level (I-level) pro-
duction shops at regional mainte-
nance centers, and onboard some ships in Fabrication
Laboratories, or Fab Labs, where additive manufactur-
ing — including 3-D printing — is emerging as one of
the latest processes for replacing broken parts.
While technological advances fostered the establish-
ment of both the Fab Labs and I-level production shops,
their emergence is fueled by tight purse strings as well.
Fab Labs have been around a little more than
two years, stemming from an idea that Capt. Steven
L. Stancy, commanding officer of the Mid-Atlantic
Ship Support Activity Regional Maintenance Center
(MARMC) at Norfolk Naval Station, had after reading
an article about 3-D printing.
A typical Fab Lab contains a suite of digital fabrication
and rapid prototyping machines, including a computer
numerical control router, a 3-D mill and scanner, a vinyl
cutter, a laser cutter, an electronics workbench, a 3-D
printer, and the accompanying software and computers.
“This equipment allows students to use computer-aided design and manufacturing tools to make almost
anything they can imagine,” said Lt. Gregory Dejute, the
3-D project officer at MARMC.
Tight budgets, technological advances fuel innovative solutions
By NICK ADDE, Special Correspondent
Necessity Breeds Invention
At the deck-plate level and in the schoolhouses, Sailors in ship-maintenance ratings are making do with what they have to mitigate equipment wear and tear.
n The work is taking place ashore in intermediate-level production
shops at regional maintenance centers, and onboard some ships
in Fabrication Laboratories.
n Sailors are employing processes such as computer-aided design
and additive manufacturing — including 3-D printing — to replace
n Innovation in these shops and labs have saved the Navy time